A common understanding among Christians is that Jesus "fulfilled the law" because of keeping the Mosaic law perfectly until his sacrificial death.

After Jesus fulfilled the law, the animal sacrifices and other artifacts of the Mosaic law were no longer needed.

For this reason Galatians 3:22-25 explained why Christians were no longer under the Law of Moses:

22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Still because of his free will (or "agency"), there was no implicit guarantee that Jesus was going to stay faithful and thus fulfill the law. He could have, for example succumbed to Satan's temptations (Luke 4:1-13), or failed the test when abused at the Jewish high court (Sanhedrin) or later in the hands of the Roman soldiers.

In fact, if failure was somehow not possible then any testing would have been pointless as it would not have indicated anything about the character of Jesus. Still we know from expressions such as Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus did not sin:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

During his time on earth, Jesus commanded his followers to tell others about the good news of the Kingdom and to make disciples of people of all nations.

Faith in Jesus was not to be based on gullibility or an ignorant willingness to believe, but on the evidence from the scriptures considered sacred in Judaism at that time (i.e. "the law" and "the prophets"). This is why Acts 17:2-4, for example, says:

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Because a good understanding of the scriptures was important for developing proper faith in Jesus, the Berean Christians were commended for actually examining the scriptures whether the things they had been told were really so (Acts 17:11).

For example, if they wanted to put the effort in it, they could have checked the prophesy about that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, or that he was from David's family line, with the genealogical records kept by the Jews.

However, comparing the prophesies of the Messiah with the prophesies fulfilled in Jesus, including his death and resurrection (as Paul did above), was possible only after the fact.

Also any people who put faith in Jesus would have followed his commandment to tell others about the good news of the Kingdom and to baptize those who become believers. The commandments to baptize people or to believe in Christ do not appear in the Bible until the first century C.E.

In the Book of Mormon however we have references to people being told that they should have faith in Christ, and people becoming baptized, hundreds of years before first century.

For example Moses 8:23 and 24 says regarding Noah:

23 And it came to pass that Noah continued his preaching unto the people, saying: Hearken, and give heed unto my words; 24 Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you; nevertheless they hearkened not.

And in 2 Nephi 9:23 (events dated to about 559–545 B.C.), Jacob says:

23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.

And Mosiah 18:17 (about 147–145 B.C.) says:

17 And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.

I am not very well versed in Mormon beliefs but my understanding is that, according to Mormons, Jesus first visited North America sometime after his death (around 34 C.E.)

My questions:

  1. According to Mormon doctrine, how could any of these people could put faith in Jesus when any prophesies regarding him would not be fulfilled until far in the future (and some of which would only be fulfilled if he actually stayed faithful)?
  2. What is the explanation on why people would become baptized in Jesus hundreds of years before he gave the command to his disciples in Judea to baptize people?
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for taking the site tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Jul 4, 2017 at 16:47
  • 2
    A clarifying note – Moses 8:23–24 is in the Pearl of Great Price, not the Book of Mormon (though both are considered scripture to Latter-day Saints). Jul 5, 2017 at 3:16

4 Answers 4


We learn from the Book of Moses (Moses 5:4-10) that Adam built an altar and sacrificed. An angel appeared and asked him why he did that? Adam responded that he did not know, only that he had been commanded to do so as part of the expulsion from Eden. The Angel then testified...

This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.

Indeed, we believe that our Father's Plan for our salvation began before the world was. We knew then who would be our savior.

1 Peter 1:18-20

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world

(See also Alma 12:25; Titus 1:2; Moses 4:1-4)

And we know that we were before the creation of the world from Jeremiah 1:5:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

In short, we believe that the Plan of Salvation has always been. The details (such as our modern use of temples) differ, but the saving doctrines (such as the need for baptism) have always been and never changed. Perhaps the most valuable scripture in this regard is Moses 6:53-62, which says in part...

And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? ... [the Lord answers] Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time. ... even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin....

  • thx for the answer! This sort of situations where people put faith in Jesus and are baptized in his name do not exist in the Bible until the first century AD. Especially with unbelievers the narrative in the Bible is not that they should "just believe" (like some Peter Pan faith) but that the early Christians explained the evidence to them. This evidence, which (according to the Bible, in the case of Jesus) did not exist before 1st century, would then form the basis of that persons faith in Jesus, and some of them would thereafter become baptized as a result.
    – alec
    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:04

A lot of answers so far have been from other LDS scripture, but not much from the Book of Mormon itself. I wanted to provide further reference that even the people in the Book of Mormon asked this question:

Alma 39:17-19 (~74 B.C.)

17 And now I will ease your mind somewhat on this subject. Behold, you marvel why these things should be known so long beforehand. Behold, I say unto you, is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?

18 Is it not as necessary that the plan of redemption should be made known unto this people as well as unto their children?

19 Is it not as easy at this time for the Lord to send his angel to declare these glad tidings unto us as unto our children, or as after the time of his coming?

The first three prophets in the Book of Mormon, Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob, were Jews that left Jerusalem to the Americas, and received revelation that helped them grow from their existing Judaic concept of a Messiah to more specific knowledge that the Messiah would be Christ and would eventually fulfil the law of Moses by His atonement.

They had visions of all aspects of Christ's life and mission, including His birth, baptism by John, His ministry, His suffering, death, and resurrection, and the names by which He would be known.

The revelation that the sinless Son of God would be baptized to keep the commandments of God cemented it as an essential practice (see 2 Nephi 31), but whether baptism was practiced by them prior to that is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, and other Book of Mormon prophets expound extensively on the words of Old Testament prophets, especially Isaiah, to reinforce how their visions and revelations about Christ are consistent with what God had revealed in the past about the Messiah. They grow strongly in the belief that all the prophets have always testified of the Messiah Christ, and teach to believe in Him though He had not yet been born.

This is the same type of effort done by the early apostles in the New Testament to persuade the Jews that Christ was the promised Messiah, though they were basing it on their eyewitness accounts rather than vision. However we know that salvation doesn't come only from being an eyewitness, since "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29)"

The Book of Mormon teaches that ultimately a testimony of the redeeming power of Christ is confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit, whether one lives before, during, or after the mortal life of Christ (Moroni 10:3-7).

Useful Book of Mormon Quotations on Revelations of Christ

Jacob 1: 5-6 (~544-421 B.C)

5 For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them.

6 And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.

2 Nephi 25:19 (~559-545 B.C.)

19 For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 Nephi 31 (~559-545 B.C.)

5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!

2 Nephi 25:26-27 (~559-545 B.C.)

26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

Mosiah 3:13 (~124 B.C.)

13 And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.

Jarom 1:11 (~399-361 B.C.)

11 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.

2 Nephi 33:10 (~559-545 B.C.)

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

Chronological References

If Stack Exchange markup allowed for collapsible quotations I'd include the actual verse text here, but as some of it is entire chapters I'll put links and summaries instead.

1 Nephi 1:5-6,19 (~600 B.C.)

Nephi begins the record of his people — Lehi sees in vision a pillar of fire and reads from a book of prophecy — He praises God, foretells the coming of the Messiah, and prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem — He is persecuted by the Jews.

1 Nephi 10:4-11 (~600-592 B.C.)

Lehi tells of the coming among the Jews of a Messiah, a Savior, a Redeemer — Lehi tells also of the coming of the one who should baptize the Lamb of God — Lehi tells of the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

1 Nephi 11 (~600-592 B.C.)

Nephi sees the Spirit of the Lord and is shown in vision the tree of life — He sees the mother of the Son of God and learns of the condescension of God — He sees the baptism, ministry, and crucifixion of the Lamb of God — He sees also the call and ministry of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

1 Nephi 19:10,23 (588-570 B.C.)

The God of Israel will come six hundred years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem — Nephi tells of His sufferings and crucifixion

1 Nephi 20-22 are quotations from Isaiah 48-49 and how those writings apply with the revelations they have received.

2 Nephi 2:5-9 (~588-570 B.C.)

Redemption comes through the Holy Messiah

2 Nephi 6:8-9 (559-545 B.C.)

Jacob recounts Jewish history: The Babylonian captivity and return; the ministry and crucifixion of the Holy One of Israel

2 Nephi 9:4-6,21-24 (559-545 B.C)

The Atonement ransoms man from the Fall — The bodies of the dead will come forth from the grave, and their spirits from hell and from paradise — They will be judged — The Atonement saves from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment — The righteous are to be saved in the kingdom of God — Penalties for sins are set forth — The Holy One of Israel is the keeper of the gate.

2 Nephi 11:2-4,6 (~599-545 B.C.)

Jacob saw his Redeemer — The law of Moses typifies Christ and proves He will come.

2 Nephi 12-24 are quotations from Isaiah 2-14. The following chapters expound on how those writings apply with the revelations they have received.

2 Nephi 25:12-14,19-30 (~559-545 B.C.)

Nephi glories in plainness — Isaiah’s prophecies will be understood in the last days — The Jews will return from Babylon, crucify the Messiah, and be scattered and scourged — They will be restored when they believe in the Messiah — He will first come six hundred years after Lehi left Jerusalem — The Nephites keep the law of Moses and believe in Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel.

2 Nephi 31 (~559-545 B.C.)

Nephi tells why Christ was baptized — Men must follow Christ, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end to be saved — Repentance and baptism are the gate to the strait and narrow path — Eternal life comes to those who keep the commandments after baptism.

2 Nephi 32 (~559-545 B.C.)

Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost — Men must pray and gain knowledge for themselves from the Holy Ghost.

2 Nephi 33 (~559-545 B.C.)

Nephi’s words are true — They testify of Christ — Those who believe in Christ will believe Nephi’s words, which will stand as a witness before the judgment bar.

Jacob 1: 5-8 (~544-421 B.C)

Jacob and Joseph seek to persuade men to believe in Christ and keep His commandments

Jacob 4:4-7 (544-421 B.C.)

All the prophets worshiped the Father in the name of Christ — Abraham’s offering of Isaac was in similitude of God and His Only Begotten — Men should reconcile themselves to God through the Atonement

Jacob 7:10-12 (544-421 B.C.)

Sherem denies Christ, contends with Jacob, demands a sign, and is smitten of God — All of the prophets have spoken of Christ and His Atonement

Jarom 1:11 (~399–361 B.C.)

The Nephites keep the law of Moses, look forward to the coming of Christ, and prosper in the land — Many prophets labor to keep the people in the way of truth.

Mosiah 12 - 16 (~148 B.C.)

False priests quote the scriptures and pretend to keep the law of Moses — Abinadi begins to teach that salvation does not come by the law of Moses alone — God Himself will make an atonement and redeem His people.

Isaiah speaks messianically — The Messiah’s humiliation and sufferings are set forth — He makes His soul an offering for sin and makes intercession for transgressors — Compare Isaiah 53.

God redeems men from their lost and fallen state — Those who are carnal remain as though there were no redemption — Christ brings to pass a resurrection to endless life or to endless damnation.

Mosiah 3-6 (~124 B.C.)

King Benjamin continues his address — The Lord Omnipotent will minister among men in a tabernacle of clay — Blood will come from every pore as He atones for the sins of the world — His is the only name whereby salvation comes — Men can put off the natural man and become Saints through the Atonement — The torment of the wicked will be as a lake of fire and brimstone.

The Saints become the sons and daughters of Christ through faith — They are then called by the name of Christ.

... and the list goes on, but these are the earliest and most salient foundational scriptures in the Book of Mormon chronology that shows the people's growth from Messiah to Christ.

  1. According to Mormon doctrine, they were able to have faith in prophecies that would not be fulfilled because of the definition of faith. Hebrews 1:11, emphasis added:

    1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
  2. Because Jesus did not introduce baptism. John was baptizing people before he baptized Jesus (Matthew 3). Presumably before Christ began His ministry. Implying that baptism was being performed before Christ began commanding it. It is Mormon belief that the act of baptism didn't start with John the Baptist (Moses 6:64-65). I have no sources that state whether it is believed that baptism was being performed in Jerusalem in 600 BC and Lehi and his family took this with them, or if the practice was revealed to them after they arrived in the Americas.

  • 1
    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Thanks for offering an answer here. I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers here as well. Jul 4, 2017 at 16:49
  • thanks for the answer. Yes it is true that people have faith into things that they have not yet seen. This expression is about things that they have heard about and become convinced as being true, for example as in Acts 17:2-4 because of the evidence about Jesus. In the Bible there is no passages describing anyone being baptized in Jesus name or even putting faith in him hundreds of years before his birth.
    – alec
    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:14
  • Thanks, Alex. Hebrews 11:7-8 praises Noah and Abraham specifically for exercising faith in things they did not know about beforehand. Similarly, Christianity believes that Christ will return again. This is an example of something that people have faith in today that has not happened yet. Hope that helps clarify what I am saying, although I think JBH better answered your second question.
    – rhamilton
    Jul 9, 2017 at 2:46
  1. We learn in Matt 5:48 and 3 Nephi 12:48 that Jesus Christ was perfect (also see https://www.lds.org/scriptures/tg/god-perfection-of). Followers of God would have know this (and likely experienced it, since Jesus Christ was the LORD of the old testament and book of mormon). Note that this was not just referring to the fact Jesus lead a perfect life, but was internally perfect as well. This means that although He had the choice to sin, He would never choose to do so. This is similar to the fact that God can not lie (Enos 1:6). It's not that He does not have the power to lie, its just not a part of His character.

    Note that although Jesus had no inclination to sin does not mean He was not tempted. Indeed, He likely had to use all His strength and willpower to resist sin. He was willing to do so though, because of His great love for us.

    Enos was blest for believing in Christ, whom he never before heard nor seen (Enos 1:8).

    Regarding other prophecies about Christ (such as his birth), we have examples such as 1 Nephi 11 describing how prophecy works. God has the power to reveal the future to man kind.

  2. Because He commanded disciples in other places to do so. For example in Moses 6:59 we read:

59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

The main message of the Book of Mormon is that God loves all people, and that Jesus Christ has, does, and will, teach, preach, bless, heal, comfort and minister to all people forever.

  • Doesn't seem to address the main issues in the question. How was the name 'Jesus' known in BC? How was the Messiah called 'The Holy One of Israel' before the creation of the nation of Israel, and before the person after whom the nation was named acquired that name? Who were the people Noah was referring to as 'our fathers' who believed in Jesus Christ? And how does Jesus get referred to as 'Christ', a Latin word only created around NT times? Jul 4, 2017 at 13:13
  • @DJClayworth The same way the people in the Old Testament knew about Him: the prophets (see 2 Nephi 19). It seems that they lost His name in the Old Testament, but still knew a lot of other things about him. Also, Christ is also a word adopted into English. They probably used a Egyptian or Hebrew word for "Anointed One". Jul 4, 2017 at 13:19
  • @DJClayworth For an example of how such prophesying might work, see 1 Nephi 11. Jul 4, 2017 at 13:22
  • I would suggest putting this stuff in the answer. Jul 4, 2017 at 13:30
  • about "The same way the people in the Old Testament knew about Him: the prophets"...the Old Testament Bible does not refer to anyone speaking about Jesus by name, or with the specificity seen in Book of Mormon, or people being baptized in his name for that matter.
    – user19845
    Jul 4, 2017 at 13:30

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